Learning to respond and think positively when unpredictable circumstances are thrown your way is key to your well-being as an athlete.
Claudia discusses the importance of always focusing on what’s within your control and shares her advice on how you can begin to develop your own coping mechanisms.
For more expert advice and resources to support your well-being on and off the field of play, visit the dedicated #MentallyFit section.
It may come across quite strongly, but one word I would use to describe what some athletes experience when a goal or routine is removed is grief. However temporary the loss may appear, it’s still significant – and that loss is a type of grief.
RECOVERING FROM LOSS
With any type of grief, talking things out is helpful. You should talk to a trusted friend, family member or mentor, which can be more therapeutic than you might think. Similarly, some of you may find that writing down your feelings can help, or even expressing them through art, music or prayer.
We’re lucky to live in a day and age where we have the addition of technology and virtual options to connect with people across the globe. Humans thrive on connection, so it’s vital to stay in touch, particularly if you’re sitting alone at home recovering from injury or the end of a competition.
CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE
This is common advice, and it’s not meant to understate the situation, but rather to get you to focus on controlling what you can. You are in control of whether you get out of bed in the morning, and do something. The alternative, to stay in bed and succumb to the uncertainty of the moment, is probably not the best approach.
Don’t forget, you as an athlete have a huge number of strengths that are conducive to dealing with these circumstances. During competition you cannot control or predict what the weather is going to be like, how your opponents will perform, or how the fans or media will react. If you can deal with those areas of uncertainty, you certainly have the mental flexibility to deal with these new challenges.
DON’T FORGET, YOU AS AN ATHLETE HAVE A HUGE NUMBER OF STRENGTHS THAT ARE CONDUCIVE TO DEALING WITH THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.
TRAIN YOURSELF TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Maintaining a positive outlook is a huge part of things. But you don’t have to give an artificial message of optimism or pretend that everything is okay and that you’re not anxious, because that might not be true. If you are feeling stressed or anxious share the realistic dual message of “I am continuing to be forward-thinking, and this can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking situation, but that’s okay.”
In terms of looking forward, concrete goals and timelines tend to work very well. Ask yourself where you want to be by the time of the next major competition, and what you need to accomplish between now and then; maintaining a goal-oriented, positive focus is huge.